Tsavo’s Kamba People

The vast majority of Tsavo has long been the home of the Kamba people. The Kamba originate from the plains around Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania, where they lived a semi-nomadic existence of herding, hunting and some agriculture.

This peaceful existence ended around the end of the 16th Century with the arrival of the Iloikop Maasai, who spread aggressively into this territory, driving the Kamba northwards. They crossed the rocky Chyulu hills and made settlements at Mbooni, in the highlands that would take their name and become known as Ukambani.

The Kamba dispersed and roamed widely over the plains of Tsavo, creating many small settlements. The Kamba were expert hunters and trappers, highly regarded for their archery skills.

The Kamba were great elephant hunters and from the late 18th century became involved in the Ivory trade, supplying Swahili merchants on the coast.This trade gave them access to foreign goods, and soon imported copper wire and bright blue calico became part of their already ornate tribal regalia and ornamentation. The Kamba are still known for their accomplished wood carving skills, and are considered Kenya’s best carvers.


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